Tonight, the Rebels (11-3; 66 RPI) take on the SMU Mustangs (9-4; 303 RPI) on the hardwood, and I expect a game that is unnerving but ends with a 15 point victory for the Rebs. Southern Methodist hasn't lost to anyone outside the top 200 in RPI, but they have no wins over teams in the top 250. Hopefully the Rebs can pull this out. If not, our already minute hopes of the dance are demolished.
SMU's leading scorer and rebounder, Papa Dia, is a 6'9" 236 pound forward from Senegal. Dia is averaging 17.0/8.4 on the season and has been a consistent threat who doesn't seem to disappear against the better competition SMU plays. Obviously, Buckner is our big hope at containing Dia.
Click the jump for a little more analysis.
The other scoring threat for SMU is junior 6'8" forward Robert Nyakundi. He's averaging 16.4 points and five rebounds per contest. Obviously, we can't overlook him. Reggie Buckner should have his hands full with these two, and it would be quite helpful for Terrance Henry to avoid early foul trouble. Dia and Nyakundi average 31 and 30 minutes respectively, so we can expect to see them both on the court a good bit. If we're put into a position where Demarco Cox must guard either, we're in a bit of trouble. I like what the freshman does offensively, but he's a work in progress on defense.
We should try to force SMU's guards to beat us if possible. The Mustangs' leading scorer at guard, Rodney Clinkscales (who competes with Papa Dia in the ridiculous name category), only averages eight points per game. Perhaps he's capable of much more, but let's make him prove that.
Ole Miss 75
1. Steadman Short gets 18 or more minutes of playing time.
2. Buckner registers fewer than three blocks.
3. Chris Warren nails four threes.
Nick Williams Contributions Slowing; Nelson Scoring in His Wake
Williams may be helping the team a good bit in ways that don't show on the stat sheet, but he has scored four points per game in the last three games, registering just over two rebounds, two assists, one turnover, and one steal over the same span despite averaging 25 minutes. Nick was really contributing early on, and I assume he still is (based on minutes played), but I'm a little less confident in our group of guards after Warren and Graham graduate now.During that same three game span, Dundrecous Nelson has averaged nearly thirteen points per game. Nelson is turning the ball over far too much (three per game) considering his 20 minutes of play, but it's nice to see those points coming off the bench.